Veteran BBC broadcaster Stuart Hall has been jailed for 15 months after he admitted 14 counts of indecent assault against girls as young as nine.
Hall, 83, had initially issued an impassioned public denial of any wrongdoing before he finally admitted his guilt at Preston Crown Court in April.
The disgraced former It’s A Knockout presenter was labelled an ‘opportunistic predator’ of his victims, who he targeted between 1967 and 1987.
Sentencing him, the Recorder of Preston, Judge Anthony Russell QC, said Hall was known to the public for his ‘genial personality’ but there was ‘a darker side’ to him.
He said: “Those who admired you for these qualities and the general public now know that there is a darker side to you, one hidden from the public view until now – and a side which you were able to conceal taking advantage of your status as a well-liked celebrity. Several of these cases reveal an abuse of power by you because your status gave you an influence and standing which you abused.”
The judge criticised Hall for his initial public denial of wrongdoing when he labelled the claims as ‘crude, pernicious and spurious’.
When initially arrested last December, Hall told police his victims were all lying as part of a ‘vendetta going on against people in the public eye’. But the publicity led to more women coming forward.
Defence barrister Crispin Aylett QC criticised some media reports about the case since Hall pleaded guilty and asked the judge to carry out the sentencing with a degree of proportion.
Mr Aylett said his client had been arrested ‘as a consequence’ of the investigations into Jimmy Savile, ‘who used young girls on a scale that is simply staggering’. He referred to the 1,300 complainants in that case and said: “Instead, in the dock today is a frightened and bewildered 83-year-old man answering for the touching – no more, no less – of all of 13, not 1,300, victims over a quarter of a century ago.”
He said 27 years had passed since the last offence and that Hall had led an ‘unblemished life’ over those years.
The BBC said in a statement: “The BBC is appalled that some of Stuart Hall’s crimes took place in connection with his work at the BBC and offer an unreserved apology to the people he abused. Dame Linda Dobbs is leading a detailed investigation into Hall’s conduct at the BBC and her conclusions will be published as part of the Dame Janet Smith Review later this year.”